celebrate kindness

Archive for October 2012

Last night, my team and I went out to dinner before presenting an an out-of-state conference. After driving for over five hours, we were starving!


We had a very large group joining us (22 people in all!) so we had low expectations for efficient service. (When was the last time you went out to dinner with 22 people wanting to be seated together?)

I am happy to report that our dining experience was amazing! Our waitress, Ashley, was phenomenal. She cheerfully explained the specials and didn’t bat an eye when we sheepishly changed our orders. Drinks were refilled without asking and appetizers and meals were served hot and in a timely manner. Not a single error was made in our orders! It was a miracle!

We chatted with her towards the end of our meal and complimented her on the delightful service and accuracy in the orders. “Well, when I give the cooks your order, I only write up six orders on a page. This makes it easier for them and fewer mistakes are made.”


Because of Ashley’s impeccable service to all the conference presenters, we were able to enjoy our time together networking instead of being frustrated or inconvenienced. I really wanted to do something for our waitress to show my appreciation for a job well done, so I reached into my bag, jotted a personal note on the back of my business card and added it to a $5 Starbucks gift card.



I handed the card to Ashley as we departed from the restaurant, thanking her for all her work. I wished I had more gift cards, because I would have loved to have treated HER to a dinner she could enjoy!

The next time you are eating out, take a moment to not only enjoy your meal, but thank your waiter or waitress. While serving you is part of their job, to know their service is appreciated validates all they do!

When was the last time you put money in a gumball machine? How much did it cost? I might be dating myself here, but I still remember a time when gumball machines were only a penny to use. Now the going rate for the “cheap” treats is a quarter. A quarter! At this rate, my children won’t even know how to use a penny!

My son is a gumball machine fanatic. Anytime he sees them, he can’t resist the appeal of checking to see if anyone left a toy or perhaps forgot to turn the dial all the way to release the candy. Almost always he is disappointed. Even so, he still checks again and again with giddy anticipation of what might be left behind.

Channeling this wonderful childhood innocence, we decided to make this our next Random Act of Kindness. Armed with quarters and joy, we went to Kroger to leave quarters in gumball machines.




We even left a few quarters so someone could try to win a stuffed animal, too.


This Random Act of Kindness was so much fun I decided to do it with my daughter, too, as we went to the local shopping mall.




Following our shopping trip, we returned to discover a little boy dancing around the machines and all the quarters gone!

The next time you have a pocket of change, pick out a few quarters and put them in some gumball machines. You will absolutely make a child smile, guaranteed!

Be blessed my friends and keep passing it on! ūüôā

What do you like to do on a Friday night? If you’re a mom like me, your Friday nights probably revolve around what your kids are doing. Some Friday nights I’m the taxi mom, driving my kids to birthday parties and sleepovers. Occasionally I’m the Friday night soccer mom when my husband can’t take our son to practice. Many Friday nights I’m the movie mom, making air popped popcorn (with extra butter!) and picking up a movie from the local Redbox kiosk.

Which brings me to my next Random Act of Kindness. Whether at the movie theater or at home, my children cannot watch a movie without popcorn. So in the spirit of all things buttery, we decided to bless someone’s night with… yes, you guessed it… popcorn!

I went into our pantry and found some unopened bags of microwave popcorn. Labeling each with the popcorn type and attaching my business card, we packed them up and headed out to the nearest Redbox kiosk (right outside a 7-Eleven). Then we taped each bag to the kiosk to bless someone’s movie night!



It was a small gesture of goodwill, but hopefully it made someone smile. Every movie deserves a popcorn treat!

Do you remember what it was like to be a kid in an arcade? Some of my earliest memories of arcade fun include birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese and Bullwinkles, playing games to earn tickets that could be redeemed for trinkets and prizes. (If only the pinball machines at the Peaches record store gave out tickets and prizes! Oh wait… Did I just reveal my age yet again by referencing a record store?)

Once when I was eight years old, my dad emptied his huge glass coin jar where he kept his spare change and told me to sort out all the quarters. There must have been 80 quarters in that jar! Little did I know at the time, but my dad was planning his own random act of kindness for me. After I had all the coins separated in neat piles (assuming we were going to put them in rolls and deposit them in the bank), he told me to grab all the quarters because we were going to spend each and every one! On arcade games! Just the two of us! Even now, more than 30 years later, I can still remember the complete and utter joy of that moment. Pure bliss!

Well, my children get just as excited about going to any type of arcade, whether it’s Chuck E. Cheese, Stevie B’s or Dave and Buster’s. One day as I was having a Mommy date with my boys, I decided to surprise them with a visit to a local arcade. Since this is a rare event, they were ecstatic to transform their crisp dollar bills into shiny gold tokens to spend on any game of their choice. I don’t know what was more fun: watching them walk from game to game pondering which game would provide the best probability for tickets, or watching them actually playing the games!


As I walked from game to game, I noticed the other children in the arcade. Several had parents or grandparents nearby, but there were a few who wandered around, looking longingly at games they had no tokens to play. I saw one young boy stoop to the floor to look under the game stool, apparently searching for a discarded token possibly left by mistake.

And then I knew. My next Random Act of Kindness! As my children were cashing out their tickets at the gift counter, I quickly ran to the token machine and purchased a few dollars worth of tokens.


I then went around and strategically left the tokens where they could be found by others.



I even made sure to leave two tokens for the more expensive games.


Oh to be a child again! The absolute bliss to receive an unexpected surprise! Sure, this act of kindness cost me a dollar or two, but I think it was money well spent. Nothing can beat putting a smile on a child’s face. ūüôā

Be blessed, my friends, and think of how YOU can bless a child today!

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Just a quick post as a shout out for a blessing received! Yesterday as I was leaving one school to travel to another (in the cold drizzle I might add), I noticed the side door of my van opening v-e-r-y… s-l-o-w-l-y… and then… nothing. Nothing! The door wouldn’t shut, the car wouldn’t start, and I was stuck with the clock ticking down the minutes before my technology training session was to begin at the other school.

Help! With a few desperate calls for assistance, I had one co-worker driving me home to swap cars and another signing into a computer to make my frantic transition a bit smoother. The training started on time and all went well, but my afternoon could have been much worse had it not been for the kindness displayed by my coworkers.

When you least expect it, you will face a bump in the road (or in my case a dead battery in your car, lol.). If you are a “cup half empty” type of person, you might have that bump turn into a mountain, and struggle with the climb. If you have a “cup half full” mindset, you will immediately look to others for help and expect kindness to be shared, making the journey a bit easier each step along the way.

Instead of cup half empty/cup half full, I’m simply happy to have a cup! I can fill it daily with kindness of others and treasure in the blessings they share. That, my friends, is a wonderful place to be. My cup is overflowing and I am blessed indeed! ūüôā

When was the last time you flew on an airplane?¬† For many people, flying has become a transportation nuisance.¬† Long lines, security checkpoints, additional fees and regulations… and that’s even before you board the plane!¬† As I made my way back home flying from one coast to the other, I directed my attention to the flight attendants.¬† Back and forth, up and down the aisles they worked.¬† But I took time to really NOTICE them.¬† They were bound by the same restrictions we had in flying, and yet they had to serve us with a smile no matter what baggage (literally and figuratively) we brought on board.¬† Two seats up the gal complained about the temperature.¬† “Why does it have to be so COLD on here?”¬† The flight attendant showed her how to adjust the air vent above her seat.¬† Another lady couldn’t figure out the headphones.¬† “But WHERE do I plug this in?”¬† As I sat on my first flight home, I became very aware of all the services flight attendants provide that require patience and kindness.¬† Whether it was cleaning up a drink spill on a person’s tray or simply making eye contact to ask, “Can I get you anything else?”, these flight attendants were doing a great job to make my travel a little more enjoyable.

On my final flight of the day, after already traveling more than 10 hours, I was weary.¬† I’m always amazed how tiring just sitting can be sometimes.¬† My back was starting to ache, my legs were becoming numb, and I just wanted to get home.¬† (Or maybe it was turning 40 that made me feel so exhausted?¬† Ha!)¬† My last flight was a short one, from Newark to Richmond, and not even half of the plane was full.¬† I was tempted to just close my eyes and sleep the entire flight, but I was once again directed to the flight attendants.¬†¬† This gal was just as friendly and kind as the ones on the previous flight.¬† “I don’t have hot chocolate, but I can get you hot tea.”¬† Her name was Cynthia and something about the way she came back to check on each of the people under her charge made me want to do something to show my appreciation.¬† Then I knew!¬† She could be my next Random Act of Kindness!¬† I had purchased a bag of M&Ms in case I got hungry during the flight, but right in that moment I knew it was meant for her.¬† I quickly pulled the candy out of my bag and wrote a note on the back of my business card.

As we landed and disembarked the plane, I left the note and the candy in my seat for Cynthia to discover after I was long gone.¬† It made me happy to know that even if she didn’t like M&Ms, she would know that her kindness was appreciated.

Ordinarily, this is where my random act of kindness post would end.¬† I rarely hear back from any of the strangers I bless after the RAOK has been done.¬† But this evening was an exception.¬† As I was making my way through baggage claim, waiting outside to be picked up by my husband and kids, I heard someone say, “That’s her!”¬† Turning to see what was going on, I saw the flight attendant waving to me, flanked by pilots on each side.¬† “Did you leave me a little something on that plane?” she asked.¬† I started laughing and said, “I did!¬† I just wanted you to know that you were doing a great job and I appreciated all your kindness!”¬† We chatted a little more, laughing the entire time, and took photos with her camera and mine.

She then said, “Well, if we knew it was your birthday, we would have sang the Happy Birthday song to you on the flight!”¬† That just got us laughing even more.¬† “No, no, that’s OK!¬† No singing needed!”¬† She then asked if I wanted a picture with the pilots.¬† Well… SURE!¬† Who in their right mind would turn down that photo op?

Once again, my blessing for someone else turned out to be a blessing to me instead.¬† After all the photos were done, I turned around to discover my entire family watching the events unfold.¬† I think that’s one of the neatest things about doing random acts of kindness – not only are you and the recipient being blessed by generosity, but all those around you observing the action are being blessed as well.¬† It truly is a domino effect!

So the next time you are planning a trip to fly the friendly skies, you may want to pick up an extra bag of candy or snacks.  You never know who might need a little pick-me-up along the journey!

Be blessed my friends and keep paying it forward!¬† ūüôā

Coffee.¬† Ahhh… the quintessential early morning pick-me-up to get your day going.¬† For some, coffee is a must-have; for others, it’s a treat.¬† I think I’m somewhere in the middle.¬† I can go without coffee, but offer me a Starbucks and I will never refuse!

Knowing I would embark on my flight home at 8:00 AM and not disembark until 5:00 PM, a Starbucks salted caramel coffee sounded like a perfect way to start my travels.  As one of my birthday gifts, my forever friend Lisa had sent me a $5 Starbucks card with pay-it-forward instructions on the front of the card.

As I approached the cashier, I turned to the woman behind me and gave her the $5 gift card and my business card.¬† “Be blessed!¬† Enjoy a treat on me!”¬† The cashier, a lively guy named Sean, overheard our conversation and jumped right in.¬† “That was so nice!¬† What a¬†special thing to do!”¬† He then told me about other customers who had done similar acts of kindness by purchasing drinks for complete strangers.

With coffees in hand, I had another patron snap a photo of this random act of kindness.  Just in time to board our planes!

Be blessed my friends!¬† And the next time you¬†swing by a Starbucks, look around and see if there’s someone who you can bless.¬† You might be¬†surprised at how good it feels to buy two coffees instead of one!¬† ūüôā

How do you let people know you appreciate their kindness? Do you send a card with the sentiments penned inside? Maybe you pick up the phone and call to say, “Thanks so much!” Well, I’ll be honest with you – I’m bad at both. It’s not that I’m unappreciative. Quite the opposite! I just show my thankfulness in different ways.

My favorite way to say “Thank You” is to cook. Yes, cook! Those of you who know me well are probably laughing right now because you either knew me when I was a newlywed who had never cracked an egg, or you’ve seen how far I have come by the pictures of¬†my meals I post on Facebook. In fact, some of you even stop me along my travels to comment about my meals. “How do you find the time?” Well, that’s an easy one to answer. I make time. Cooking is my way of sharing appreciation and love.

My 40th birthday was no exception. My friend, Michele, had opened her home to me so that I might spend a weekend of fun in Las Vegas.¬†¬†After a whirlwind 30 hours¬†in Vegas, visiting the Strip, sharing brunch with teaching buddies, revisiting my former home and photographing enough memories to last another 12 years, I pulled out the¬†pots and pans¬†and¬†started cooking. “But it’s your BIRTHDAY! Are you SURE you want to spend the night COOKING?”¬† Michele was in shock.¬† Who spends their 40th birthday cooking in someone else’s home?¬† “You don’t have to do this!¬† It’s your¬†birthday!¬† We could go out to a restaurant¬†and relax!”¬† ¬†I simply smiled and asked, “Where are your measuring cups?”

So now you know the REAL story of my wild Vegas weekend.¬† I spent my 40th birthday cooking for my dear friend, Michele and her family to show my appreciation for her kindness.¬† And you know what?¬† I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you’d like to see my online recipes, click here.¬† I made Bang-Bang shrimp in the photos above, but I will post Michele’s delicious salad recipe soon!

This was a quick and easy Random Act of Kindness… adding a few quarters to a donation jar. In this case, it was a Boy Scout fundraiser set up right outside a grocery store. No, I didn’t want any popcorn. Yes, I was in a rush. But it was for the Boy Scouts. How could I say no?


A few months ago my husband and I were sharing a conversation about traveling, friends, etc and I mentioned how much I would love to return to the place where I had so many firsts: first purchased home, first teaching job, first child. My husband used to serve in the U.S. Air Force and one of our most memorable locations we lived was the place of firsts: Las Vegas, NV. As the most amazing birthday surprise ever (revealed to me 40 days before my 40th birthday), my husband arranged a weekend trip for me to fly back to Vegas, reconnect with friends, visit our old stomping grounds, and ring in this birthday milestone like no other. What an unexpected joy!

On the cross-country flight, I found myself in a window seat beside two delightful ladies any traveler could ask for. We immediately settled in, made introductions, started passing magazines back and forth, and… well, once we started chatting we never stopped!


I learned their names (Tamera, who goes by Tammy, on the far left; Lori “with an i” in the middle), listened to life stories, and reminded myself yet again why I love to travel. We were all traveling for pleasure, which made the anticipation of our impending Vegas arrival all the more exciting. Lori and I were surprised to discover that despite the amazing journeys our new friend, Tammy, had taken, she had never been to Vegas! Never! We were both almost giddy in our delight to share what we knew about this crazy and fun city. We had a newbie in our midst!

It was then that I knew Tammy would be my next Random Act of Kindness. I had already shared with them the details about my 40th Birthday Project, so as the flight attendants made announcements about our arrival, I reached across and gave Tammy a dollar bill. “For your very first slot machine! You can play right in the terminal!” Lori handed her a dollar as well, then we followed her as she enjoyed playing her very first Vegas slot machine. The pictures say it all!






She was a winner! How exciting! It was such fun to watch her play those bills and walk away a tiny bit richer! It also reinforced the joy in sharing kindness to strangers while traveling. Had I not taken a few moments to simply say hello to my seatmates, I might have missed the opportunity to get to know some really sweet gals and share in the fun! What a great way to start my birthday weekend!


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